Students arriving at SSLM quickly discover that the heritage of Russian Orthodox singing is varied and vast, a reflection of its ancient roots in Byzantine chant, a millennium of development on Russian soil and creative interaction with European and other foreign influences. In the 20th century, the experience of the Russian Diaspora across the globe and the influx of non-Russian converts to Orthodoxy have both infused this living tradition with their creative spirit. Simultaneously, despite the anti-religious nature of the communist regime in the USSR from 1917 to 1991, the Orthodox music culture did not fade away within the country’s borders, instead producing a series of new composers, conductors and renowned choirs whose influence continues to be felt in the 21st century.
SSLM brings together faculty from a variety of backgrounds within the broader tradition. Archpriest Andre Papkov and Matushka Elena Perekrestova embody the rich history of church singing in the Russian Diaspora, with many decades of experience in the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Drs. Kurt Sander and Elena Nelson bring with them a formidable American academic culture, and invaluable insights into the ways in which contemporary Russian Orthodox music transcends national backgrounds. Nikolay Myshkin combines the best of the 20th century Moscow school of liturgical singing with deep knowledge of the particular choir situation of parishes outside of Russia. In this he is joined by Alexei Shipovalnikov, who moreover is a foremost proponent of the Russian musical tradition in the English language. Irina Mozyleva ties together the best practices of both Russian and American academic voice performance and twenty years of working with church musicians in the Diaspora. Liubov Temnova represents the new generation of Orthodox singers and conductors working in Russia itself, while Aleksandr Andreev's intense study of Orthodox liturgics in top schools both in Russia and the United States further underscores the creative feedback between the "original" Russian tradition and its continuation abroad. Recently, these faculty members have been joined by Valentina Shatalova, whose life-long immersion in the musical environment of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is complemented by a deep background in the best traditions of American musical pedagogy.